Look into the closet; stare at the selection; try on several combinations; groan in dissatisfaction. This cycle is one that often leads people straight to the nearest clothing store, but with the current financial crisis, this fashion-finding dilemma is forcing shoppers to find alternative methods for acquiring new looks.

While advertisements for going-out-of-business sales cover the windows of local clothing boutiques including Beanie June and Fly, the low prices of vintage and thrift stores are attracting new customers every day.

“We have an increase of customer flow,” said Kelly McLeod, owner of The Getup, a vintage clothing store on State Street. “We see a lot of people that would not have thought to normally shop vintage clothing using it as an affordable option.”

Even though these stores are experiencing a growth of new customers, the financial crisis is still impacting their sales. According to McLeod, customers who used to buy numerous items at once are cutting back and only purchasing one or two. Although new people still come into stores like The Getup, consumers are generally conservative with their precious money.

Despite the allure of the reasonable and negotiable prices found at secondhand stores, some people may not want to spice up their wardrobes with duds from the past. These shoppers may find clothing exchanges to be a suitable alternative for snatching up current fashions while saving their dollars.

Clothing exchanges (also known as fashion swaps) consist of a group of people gathering together to trade some of their unwanted items for others’ threads. The transaction begins when everyone shows what he or she brought. The battle starts as everyone quickly claims his or her favorite pieces of clothing and accessories, and negotiations often ensue.

2008 University alum Allison Buchwach attends clothing exchanges with her friends so she can add to her closet without spending money.

“This activity is beneficial because you get to ‘buy’ things with something you don’t want anymore,” Buchwach wrote in an e-mail interview. “You get some new clothes with the same satisfaction as if you had bought them from the store. At least for me, I took pride in the fact that I was recycling someone else’s clothes, and also enjoyed knowing the history of the clothing — whether or not they were hand-me-downs, something worn for a special event, etc.”

The Getup has hosted a few after-hours clothing exchanges and is planning more in the upcoming months. McLeod agrees that these events invite people to challenge their inventiveness and walk away with some great new apparel.

“I see a lot of people getting creative with the economy being the way that it is right now,” McLeod said. “I think that there are other ways of obtaining new fashion, and it’s just about switching out the old.”

Creating a new look from old clothes is cheap and requires resourceful thinking.

For LSA senior Monica Buckley, fashion reinvention is all about the layering.

“It’s easy to throw on some cheap jewelry or a scarf to automatically update an outfit,” Buckley wrote in an e-mail interview. “Wear a short dress underneath a skirt to create a new top. Take that same dress, throw a cardigan on and belt it. Or wear a turtleneck under it, some opaque black tights and a statement necklace.”

New clothes are exciting, and although the economy may be cutting into everyone’s shopping funds, alternative methods can transform a tiresome closet into an array of pristine outfits waiting to be worn.

“It’s all about working with what you have,” Buckley wrote. “When life gives you last year’s dresses, wear them!”

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